Nature is all around us. The rhythm of seasons and life continue as we go about our busy lives, either connected or disconnected in some way. For those that are connected, they make the time to stop and notice the changes in nature outside their home or work, but those who are disconnected will only comment on the changing weather.
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This story is about an extraordinary woman called Gwen Frostic whose life work was inspired by nature. She was born in 1906 in the State of Michigan, USA, but due to an illness as a baby, she was left with limited co-ordination in her hands and legs. The alienation she felt because of her disabilities, drew her closer to nature where she discovered all things are equal. The patience and persistence of her mother, in her early years, meant she learnt to hold a pencil and begin to draw. Once Gwen discovered she could draw, her life took on a new meaning. In adulthood she attended an art school and later started her own business printing cards from linoleum cuts. The subjects of her print work were the nature around her in the Benzonia Township – flowers, trees, birds and animals. Gwen’s artwork is her enduring legacy since her death in 2001. You can still visit her printing shop in Benzonia Township, Michigan.
The book, “Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story”, is beautifully illustrated and written. Children will love how the words read almost poetically and the accompanying pictures are full of life and whimsy.
“Gwen loved learning, but trying to make friends could leave her feeling as prickly as a porcupine. Nature felt like a friend, pulling her out to play. With so much to discover, Gwen didn’t have time to feel lonely. Swaying grasses whispered in fields thick with Queen Anne’s lace. Tiny ferns unfurled at her feet. Frogs lapped up bugs with long, quick tongues. Gwen breathed it all in. She listened to their message.”
The author has not simplified Gwen’s life too much for her young audience, so the reader will get a full picture of who Gwen was and what she did.
I think after reading this book together, a child could learn a few things from Gwen Frostic’s life including these thoughts below:
- If you are different, you can still find a place in this world
- Nature is beautiful and it’s good to spend time with it, and look after it
- Keep trying and doing what is important even when others laugh or make fun of you.
I recommend this book for children aged 4-10. It is hardcover and contains 32 pages. It is illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen.